Property managers are in a unique position when it comes client relations. Their clients are their owners, but who is ultimately paying the bills are the tenants. Owners want the highest rents and lowest maintenance costs. Tenants, want the opposite. Your minimum maintenance standards are that of Habitability. On the other end of the spectrum is that of a 5 star hotel, daily turnover service, immediate maintenance and chocolate chip cookies. How do you comply with the wishes of an owner while maintaining relations with tenants and their needs? Enter, tenant relations. Here are some ideas on how to keep tenants happy besides a $20,000 unit makeover.
We’ve all been at the receiving end of a girl or guy we are pursing that just doesn’t responding to your text message. How frustrated are you? Annoyed? The landlord/property manager and tenant relationship can be just as infuriating. Whether that is the tenant not responding to your attempts to schedule an appointmnt. Or if you ignore the tenants text message or inquiry about a maintenance item. You can’t control a tenants resonse to you, but you can control your responses back to a tenant. Don’t ignore them, respond at MINIMUM within 24 hours, if not within the hour. ***Lay boundaries – don’t be responding at 11PM to a roommate change request – that is disrespectful and don’t tolerate it from the tenant***
How far can a $5 gift card to Starbucks go? Farther than you would think. Landlords and property managers are typically seen as the big bad wolves who eat the sheep. Collecting rent, ignoring maintenance texts etc etc. But what if you could flip the script and respond to the maintenance requests quickly and give BACK to the tenants in the form of a $5 Christmas gift or renewal gift. Put this into your marketing budget. Because word of mouth is going to pay dividends if you actually put this into play.
How often does a tenant get a late fee and call you pissed off because they thought they had “til Monday to pay” or “the 5th day of the month” or any other reason to have not paid rent? Typically a simple understanding of the lease and lease language will help the tenant avoid these late fees and other lease violations. Something that I have implemented lately is the “initial” tool from Docusign. We use a standard lease for all of our rental properties, but there are certain sections that NEED to be understood by the tenant. Steam cleaning the unit and providing a receipt once they move out. Putting utilities into their name prior to move in. Maintaining a clean and tidy property. Rent is due by the 1st and late after the 2nd business day at 5PM. Place initial tabs next to each of these areas. At that point, you hope the tenant will read these, but if they claim they had not, pull the lease and show them their initials.
Equal and Fair Treatment
Besides complying with Fair Housing Laws, it is just good practice to treat tenants equally and fairly. If not to comply with Fair Housing, do it for your sanity, because here is the deal. Tenants talk to each other. If you decide to waive the late fee for the third time for Tenant A and Tenant B is paying late for the second time and you charge them a late fee and they are neighbors. You are going to hear about it. I also believe in the idea of treating long term tenants more favorably than short term tenants. That is okay, just have it in writing and in your policy as to avoid confusion from the tenants perspective. “At the beginning of the third year of renting, the tenant is allowed two late payments in a 12 month span so long as rent is in no later than the 7th day of the month.” Heck, it is better than one late payment per year and if you have a tenant living at the property for three years, you’re unit should be cash flowing greatly!
Essentially tenant relations come down to empathy. Although you don’t need comply with every request, you do need to understand what is fair and reasonable. On top of that, treat them like people. Say thank you when they pay rent, sorry if you made a mistake and show them you are grateful at other times besides when they pay rent. Don’t be considered that big bad landlord, when all it takes is some easy steps to avoid that title. Ultimately, the owner is your client. You need to adhere to the budget, provide the returns you are promising and take care of their asset as if it is your own. Don’t forget about who is paying the bills though. Tenant relations will go a long way in your business.